I was invited to speak at First Annual Speech Tournament presented by the Communication Club at California State University, San Bernardino, Palm Desert Campus. The speech tournament gave students a chance to meet with other communication majors out of class and practice and showcase their public speaking talents and abilities. There was a great turn out, with a mix of lower and upper class men.
I was one of two guest speakers talking to communication students about public speaking. I was honored to share the stage with Palm Desert Mayor Pro Tem Jan Harnik, who spoke before me about what public speaking entails.
As a alumni at CSUSB, PDC I spoke to a classroom filled with students and advisers about how CSUSB prepared me for working in a communications field. Below is the speech I prepared for that event.
"Hello, my name is Ashley Santana and I am a graduate of California State University, San Bernardino, Palm Desert Campus. I graduated in 2014 with a bachelor's degree in mass communications and a minor in script writing. I currently wort at The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands as a managing editor in the office of communications and public affairs and as an editorial assistant for the Center & Gardens. Today, I am pleased to speak to you briefly about my experience as a communications student here at CSUSB and my experience putting what I learned into a practicing field.
I find that people are surprised when they learn I have a job in the field I majored in; because the reigning idea is that most college graduates don't. And while that may or may not be true, most if not all of the people I work with do in fact have a major in the field they studied in; and most of them are communications and journalism. There have also been a handful of people who had a hard time wrapping their minds around what I can do with a communications major. I even had one person laugh and say, "What do you do? Study how to communicate?" And she had no idea that her remark was a testament to how important communication is; how important it is for communication to be done right. I realized how important the need for proper communication is in my everyday life, but also in my experience at school, working as a public speaker, and working in a public affairs office.
I think that it's important to note that I got into communication because I love to write, and mass media and journalism allowed me to study writing in what is considered a lucrative field versus, say, creative writing, which is what I originally wanted to do—because communication is a business; I learned that here. (Side note: I want to say just because I studied communications doesn't mean I gave up on my dream of being an author. In fact, I feel that my comm. classes helped improve my creative writing, and today I am a published author.) I saw all the different types of communication in the classes that were being offered—Digital and Media, Business and Professional, Nonverbal, Public Relations, Classroom, Organizational, Gender and Communication, Interpersonal Relations, Health, Media and Culture, Issue Management and Crisis Communication—(are these sounding familiar?) the list goes on; and for each class, not only did I have to write, but I had to speak—I had to interact. Communication is interaction—done right. And that's why the major is important, because communication is the cornerstone of any civilization; and it's much more than just talking to each other. At CSUSB, I learned the psychology of communication, the physical demands of communication—eye contact, smiling, hand and arm placement – and the effects of successful and broken communication.
Each time I took a class I became better at my next one—and not just because the class was probably a prerequisite—but, because my personal understanding of communication improved. If I were to take a math class—and I'm horrible at math—I feel that I would do better, because my note taking (written skills) are better and because my listening is better, which is part of the circle of life of communication.
I became an interning tour guide at Sunnylands while still a student here and everything I learned was suddenly being put into use. This particular job is important to the organization because the tour guides are the face of Sunnylands to the public—they are the communicators. More often than not, the only interaction someone from the public may receive from Sunnylands will be from the tour guide. Training was intense and extensive. Not only did we have to memorize all the information we would eventually tell guests, but we also how to learn to tell the information properly. When you speak, do you speak clearly? How is your articulation? Do you speak too fast? Too slow? Words have power; this is the Sunnylands vernacular—this is not. But most importantly, can you tell a story? Can you be engaging and entertaining and at the same time professional? In all the communication classes that we took and are taking and will take, these are the ideas and qualities that we are learning under the surface of our curriculum. Public speaking, storytelling, body language, engaging the audience—all parts of any communication groups and subgroupsare talents and traits that I learned here at school, but were polished as a tour guide at Sunnylands.
During my second season at Sunnylands, there was an opening in the office of communications and public affairs. The interview consisted of an in-person greet and a written test. I was nervous. I was up against two of my fellow guides who I respect and know to be both professional and intelligent. One was a history major, but the other was also communications, whom eventually received her master's in communication from the Annenberg School of Communication at Penn State.
I meet with the then-deputy director of communications and public affairs, Mary Perry, and she just blew me away. She had a love for public affairs that was infectious; and upon meeting her she just made me want the position more, which in turn made me more nervous. But I was okay, I had just taken a class on interviewing, so I knew form an interviewer's point of view a quick and well–rounded answer is always a good one. Even though I know that interviewing someone for an article and getting interviewed for a job isn't exactly the same, I wanted to say things I hoped she would remember later; like a reporter pulling a quote for a story. The written part was interesting. I was to write two lines: an opening to an article. I remember sitting at the computer station in the office, thinking "I really wish I had my notes on me." But in real life we usually find ourselves without our notes, and I was happy to find myself prepared with the information I had learned from all the comm. classes I'd taken. A week later, I got a call from Sunnylands saying I had the position.
In the office of communications and public affairs I have written and edited four different on-going newsletters, edited press releases, taken photographs, written articles, created flyers and online graphics, written copy and created digital content for the website. I have given VIP tours to Hollywood directors, Supreme Court Justices, authors, and delegates. I recently worked with the White House Press Pool and even met the President. To this day, I rely on what I learned here at CSUSB: the importance of communication; what makes successful communication; how do others perceive the communication around them; and how do I perceive and interpret it?
My experience at Cal State, San Bernardino truly prepared me for the job I have and wanted. Each class taught me something different while solidifying the underlying core of what communication is and why it's important for each generation to have an amazing group of people well versed in proper communication. As I look over the room I see that generation, and I'm happy to be part of it myself."